How Your Child's Diet Affects Their Development

Jan 9, 2021 | Burlington

Everyone knows that it’s best for children to eat healthy and consume a decent amount of fruits and vegetables. But few are actually aware of how important this is! 


A child’s diet plays a tremendous role in their overall development. It affects nearly every aspect of their bodies, can influence their future, and can definitely affect their math performance. Keep reading for all the many ways that your child’s diet affects their development and what their ideal diet should be.

It Affects Their Intellectual Development

Your child’s diet is directly related to their brain development.The better the food, the better the brain will develop. One study published in The Journal of Nutrition discovered that 2-year-olds who were undernourished were 16% more likely to fail one or more grades in school than those who were properly nourished. The researchers even found that this could decrease the child’s future lifetime income by around 10%. This is because the brains of malnourished children are not provided with the items they need to adequately grow, resulting in brains that are smaller than normal.


There are plenty of other studies that show the negative impact of poor nutrition on brain development and growth. The United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition reports that even children who are only mildly or moderately malnourished, meaning they don’t consume enough nourishing foods, are at a higher risk of poor academic performance, lowered mental capacity, lower IQ, and slower language. So, ensure your children’s brains properly and completely develop with adequate nourishment!

It Affects Their Emotional and Psychological Development

Poor nutrition results in a lack of important minerals, such as calcium, and other nutrients. These minerals and nutrients have been shown to be a key part of emotional and psychological development. 


A study performed by the Center for Development found that nutritional imbalances and malnutrition are closely associated with several emotional and psychological issues, like autism, depression, hyperactivity, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety. This is no surprise, since malnutrition negatively affects brain development and brain development is linked to emotional and psychological development. When a brain is underdeveloped or smaller in size, it often results in lasting emotional and cognitive deficits. 

It Affects Their Physical Growth

Everyone knows that food is what helps children grow healthy and strong. So, it should be no surprise that malnutrition hinders children’s physical growth. 


There are tons of studies that show the impact of a child’s diet on their size, like one that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In this study, the researchers studied children who were malnourished during their first year of life and subsequently hospitalized. The findings revealed that each of the children were consistently smaller than children who were properly nourished. This continued to be the case even three and four years later, too. These findings, along with ones from many other studies, are why all doctors and health professionals agree that proper nourishment is crucial to a healthy size and weight in the child’s later life. 

It Affects Their Behavioral Development

Surprisingly, your child’s diet also plays a role in how they interact with others.


One study conducted at Harvard’s Medical School examined behavioral issues in children ages 6 to 8 years old. Interestingly enough, it found that malnourishment highly impacted social behaviors even more than anticipated. The children involved in the study, who faced malnourishment during their childhood, were all more withdrawn, less helpful, and less active than those who were properly nourished. This is, in part, attributable to the inadequate brain growth caused by malnutrition, as an underdeveloped brain often results in behavioral deficits, too. 

So, What is the Ideal Diet for Proper Development?

Providing your child with the ideal diet isn’t as hard as you may think! Simply doing the following easy steps will ensure your child is getting the nutrients they need.

Go Organic

Choosing organic foods and produce is an awesome thing you can do for not only your children, but your entire family, including yourself! Organic products are grown without harmful chemicals, pesticides, and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) that have been linked to SO many health issues, like hindering a child’s brain development. Organic foods have also been found to be more nutritious than non-organic foods. So, whenever you can, try to substitute your meats, fruits, and vegetables especially for organic products. 

Eat More Fruits and Veggies

This is something every parent has heard several times: have your child eat more fruits and veggies! Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are needed for a child’s overall well-being. Studies have shown that children who eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day have better brain functioning than those who don’t. An easy way to start doing this is by preparing smoothies or having your child have a side of fruits or vegetables with each meal. And, when snack time rolls around, go for the fruits and veggies instead of the chips!

Cut Back on the Sugar

Refined sugars can wreak havoc on a child’s overall health. It impacts things like brain development, mood, memory, attention spans, and more. The sad reality is that most foods do contain these sugars, even meals you wouldn’t think do! So, cut back on as much sugar as you can by reducing your child’s intake of things like candy, juice, soda, desserts, and even processed foods. Doing so will significantly help not only your child’s development, but their overall health. 

Eat More Healthy Fats

Most children’s diets contain plenty of unhealthy fats and very little healthy fats. However, healthy fats are what support healthy brain development, along with overall development in general. These fats come from things like nuts, seeds, avocados, and organic oils. An easy way to incorporate more healthy fats into your child’s diet is by cooking with organic avocado oil or coconut oil rather than vegetable, soy, or peanut oil, which are actually harmful to our cells.


A Healthy Diet Isn’t the Only Thing That Can Help Your Child Excel in Math!

All children, of course, need adequate nutrition to understand math. However, our Burlington math tutors can also help provide the extra support your child needs to not only understand, but thrive in math. With a customized learning plan based on our proven Mathnasium Method and specially trained tutors who genuinely care, your child is sure to experience success.


Learn more about our math tutoring services today or give us a call to schedule your free trial.